Taraya Beecham was not quite 10 months old when she died in April 2016. She weighed eight and a half pounds, as much as some newborns.
Investigators found a hammer in her home, prosecutors said in court Thursday. The hammer matched the shape and size of a fracture in Taraya’s skull.
Her leg had been broken and partially healed at least twice, prosecutors said. By the time her mother called 911, Taraya had numerous cuts and bruises, she was dehydrated, and she hadn’t eaten in 12 to 24 hours, prosecutors said.
Mother Basheba Freeman, then 20, and father Taquan Beecham, then 23, were both charged with homicide due to child abuse.
Freeman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday, with a penalty of 16 to 20 years in prison. Beecham pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of felony child abuse and will serve four to six years in prison, though both parents will have the 640 days they’ve spent in jail credited toward their sentences.
Beecham wasn’t home when Freeman called 911, and when emergency responders arrived, Taraya wasn’t breathing. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Beecham told police that her daughter had cried until she was unconscious before, and she and Freeman had performed CPR after searching the internet, prosecutors said. She told police that, from what they’d seen online, babies often passed out from crying.
Beecham and Freeman were in an on-and-off relationship, prosecutors said, so Beecham sometimes lived with Freeman and their daughter and sometimes with his mother. He worked full-time at KFC and wasn’t the baby’s primary caregiver. He didn’t see her every day, the prosecutor said.
When Freeman got home from work the day of the 911 call, Beecham told him Taraya had fallen off the sink a few hours earlier. But he checked on her and she was breathing, prosecutors said. Then he left.
Taraya was pronounced dead hours later.
After Freeman pleaded guilty, her defense attorney Susan Weigand told the judge her client had received Social Security disability payments because she has intellectual disabilities.
“She operates at a 9 or 10-year-old level...she had a great deal of difficulty performing everyday tasks,” Weigand said.